Daily News of 2014-02-03
European Commission - MEX/14/0203 03/02/2014
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EXME 14 / 03.02
03 / 02 / 14
Commission unveils first EU Anti-Corruption Report
Today the European Commission is presenting the first ever EU Anti-Corruption Report. The report will explain the following situation in each Member State: what anti-corruption measures are in place, which ones are working well, what could be improved and how. Cecilia Malmström, EU Commissioner for Home Affairs said: "Corruption undermines citizens' confidence in democratic institutions and the rule of law, it hurts the European economy and deprives States from much-needed tax revenue. Member States have done a lot in recent years to fight corruption, but today’s Report shows that it is far from enough. For the EU Anti-Corruption Report including country chapters, Eurobarometer surveys, factsheets and all press material click here: http://ec.europa.eu/anti-corruption-report . For more information: IP/14/86 ; MEMO/14/67 ; MEMO/14/68
Today President Barroso meets with the Prime Minister of Georgia, Mr Irakli Garibashvili. Prime Minister Irakli Gharibashvili was appointed on November last year and this will be his first visit to Brussels.
Georgia is one of the leading performers in the Eastern Partnership. This meeting comes after the full initialling of the Association Agreement/Deep and Comprehensive Free Trade Area at the Vilnius Summit last November. EU and Georgia are expected to sign this Agreement in 2014.
The meeting is followed by a press point, scheduled at 15:30. Presidents Barroso's statement will be available afterwards.
Assistance in the form of electricity generators is reaching Slovenia after the country activated the European Union Civil Protection Mechanism on Sunday to request support following a severe cold snap. In a swift operation, coordinated by the European Commission's Emergency Response Coordination Centre, three Member States offered help within hours of the request. Some of the equipment has already arrived, together with technicians to install and operate it.
Mergers: Commission clears creation of German car distribution joint venture by Mitsubishi and Frey
The European Commission has approved under the EU Merger Regulation the acquisition of joint control over MMDA Automobile GmbH by Mitsubishi Motors Europe B.V. and the Emil Frey Group. Frey, via its subsidiaries, mainly sells new and used motor vehicles of different brands in Switzerland, Germany, France, the Czech Republic, Hungary, Poland and Croatia. Mitsubishi Motors Europe B.V. is a wholly owned subsidiary of the Mitsubishi Motors Corporation active in the manufacture, supply and distribution of motor vehicles and spare parts of the 'Mitsubishi' brand at wholesale level. The joint venture will be active in the import and wholesale distribution of Mitsubishi-branded motor vehicles and spare parts in Germany. The Commission concluded that the proposed acquisition would not raise competition concerns, in particular because there are only highly limited overlaps between the parties' activities. The operation was examined under the normal merger review procedure. More information is available on the Commission's competition website in the public case register under the case number M.7130 .
The European Commission has approved today General Electric as the purchaser of Thermo Fisher's divestments businesses producing and supplying (i) media and sera for cell culture, (ii) gene silencing products, and (iii) polymer-based magnetic beads. Thermo Fisher had committed to divest these three businesses as a condition for the Commission to allow the acquisition of Life Technologies ( IP/13/1167). In the parallel US investigation, the US Federal Trade Commission (FTC) has approved also today the acquisition of Life Technologies by Thermo Fisher as well as General Electric as the purchaser of the respective divestment businesses.
State aid: Commission approves prolongation of Polish bank guarantee scheme
The European Commission has authorised, under EU state aid rules, a prolongation of the Polish bank guarantee scheme until 30 June 2014. The scheme covers guarantees and other liquidity support measures in favour of different types of solvent credit institutions in Poland. The pricing conditions of the scheme are in line with the requirements of the Commission's 2011 Communication on state aid to banks during the crisis (see IP/11/1488). Other conditions of the original scheme remain unchanged. The Commission found the prolongation of the scheme, initially approved on 25 September 2009 (see IP/09/1360) and last prolonged in January 2013 (see MEX/13/0129) and in July 2013, to be in line with its guidance on state aid to banks during the crisis (see IP/08/1495 , IP/08/1901 , IP/10/1636 , IP/11/1488 and IP/13/672), because it is well targeted, proportionate and limited in time and scope. The Commission, therefore, concluded that the measure was compatible with Article 107(3)(b) of the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union (TFEU) that allows to grant aid to remedy a serious disturbance in the economy of a Member State. During the application of the extraordinary crisis rules for state aid to banks, the Commission is authorising guarantee schemes on banks’ liabilities for periods of six months in order to be able to monitor developments and adjust conditions accordingly.
Commission raises serious doubts about Latvian Regulator's proposals for call Termination Rates
The Commission has opened a phase II investigation under the powers of article 7 of the framework directive against the telecoms regulator in Latvia (SPRK), over SPRK's plans for new rates in the wholesale call termination markets. The Commission is particularly concerned that fixed call termination rates in Latvia will remain at a higher level compared to other EU Member States. Higher termination rates will ultimately be paid by subscribers to fixed and mobile networks in Latvia and other EU Member States. The Commission now has three months to discuss the draft measures, in close cooperation with the Body of European Regulators (BEREC), to make them compliant with EU law. The Commission may at the end of the extended investigation period either lift its reservations or issue a set of recommendations addressed to SPRK.
The European Commission has formally established a group of EU Regulatory Authorities in the field of Audiovisual Media Services. The Group brings together heads or high level representatives of national independent regulatory bodies in the field of audiovisual services, to advise the Commission in implementing the EU's Audiovisual Media Services Directive (AVMSD) in a converged media age. Europe's broadcast and audiovisual landscape is changing: content is increasingly distributed and viewed across borders and created, distributed and viewed online. (see IP/13/358) This creates special regulatory challenges and makes it crucial to guarantee closer and more regular cooperation between the independent regulatory bodies of Member States and the Commission.
Commissioner Piebalgs attends UNICEF Executive Board in New York
EU Commissioner for Development Andris Piebalgs starts today a visit to New York to attend the UNICEF Executive Board on the 4 February 2014, where he will deliver a special address. As part of the visit, the Commissioner will meet with Anthony Lake, Executive Director of UNICEF, with the aim of reinforcing their joint work in helping partner countries to reach the Millennium Development Goals, specifically those related to children. While in New York, the Commissioner will also deliver a statement at the Open Working Group on Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and will also meet Helen Clark, Administrator of the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), and Jan Eliasson, Deputy Secretary General of the United Nations.
Today, Eurostat publishes for the first time a News Release with working day and seasonally adjusted quarterly data on government revenue, expenditure and surplus/deficit. This new euro-indicator complements the annual data already published in the twice yearly EDP notifications and the quarterly news release on government debt by providing a more short term trend in general government revenue, expenditure and surplus/deficit for the euro area and the EU. It will be issued regularly at around four months after the end of the reference quarter.In the third quarter of 2013, the seasonally adjusted general government deficit to GDP ratio stood at 3.1% in the euro area (EA17), down from 3.3% in the second quarter of 2013. In the EU284 the deficit to GDP ratio remained nearly stable at 3.5%.